Wheelchair Accessible Machu Picchu this summer in a wheelchair – No Problem

machu picchuPat wants to visit Peru this summer and she’s traveling with a wheelchair, No Problem!!!  She’s been traveling for her lifetime, she has the money, time, the ambition and the desire to still adventure at her age – what she doesn’t have is a group of travelers who’d like to go with her this summer to Peru and share the costs that she can’t afford as a wheelchair traveler, traveling alone.

Pat’s no stranger to traveling with her manual wheelchair and her special needs. She’s fully self sufficient and she’s been all over the world with us, and she’s been all around the west with Clint Grosse at Access Tours. Now Pat wants to stand at the top of Machu Picchu and take it all in.

Our wheelchair accessible adventures in Peru this summer center on the attractions in Lima, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco. We like the progression we’ve created in our accessible itinerary because it takes into account the gradually changing altitude and that route helps our travelers adjust better to the changes to avoid altitude sickness. Lima 5085 ft /1550 m, Machu Picchu 8200 ft 2500 m, Sacred Valley 8700 ft/2650 m Cuzco 10,913 ft/3326 m.

Altitude sickness is the most common malady our travelers experience who visits Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and Peru’s Sacred Valley. It affects every person differently with symptoms like headaches, nausea, and loss of appetite, breathlessness, sleep problems and palpitations.  While our guides and support teams carry portable oxygen containers, good hydration, a slowed pace and acclimatization at each elevation are cornerstones to abate the symptoms.

During our trip there are visits to the Cusco and Pisac Indian Markets, a picnic lunch at the Moray Inca terrace, a flight over the Nazca lines, and an unforgettable accessible day of outdoor adventures at Machu Picchu.

Despite the scarcity of wheelchair accessible Peruvian resources and the tremendous challenges related to their infrastructure, a good deal of travelers with disabilities have participated in our wheelchair accessible Peru vacations.  Nonetheless, this is a rigorous trip and a can-do attitude, good respiratory health, and flexibility are necessary. The passengers going Pat would be paying their own way, like her. They would also be flexible and willing to accept situations where access in Peru is still limited.  For this reason, scooters, carts and electric wheelchairs can’t be accommodated outside of Lima, and slow walkers and travelers with manual wheelchairs are invited.

Our accessible groups can only visit Machu Picchu in the summer months June, July and August, when it’s the the dry season in the Andean highlands. From December to March, it’s the wet season when it’s muddy, slippery, and too dangerous for the physically carrying that must go on for our clients to visit the terraced levels at Machu Picchu.

The entire summer is open and this summer, Pat wants to stand on Machu Picchu with a group of travelers and take it all in – Prospective adventures should write to Accessible Journeys.


Wheelchair travel in the streets of Italy

Kathy and Joe Pagliei at Trevi Fountain in Rome

I am Italian, I sell travel, and I have been through the streets of Italy with my wheelchair. I love everything about Italy! I love the culture, the food, the language and the people. The streets can present a challenge with a wheelchair, however, I still love visiting Italy.

In the inner cities of Italy, the charm of the “old City” is its architecture and cobble stone streets. The first rule of thumb when traveling with a wheelchair is to be sure the person pushing the chair is physically able to push that person on any surface. If the handler is not strong enough to push the wheelchair up small inclines or ramps, then it’s not likely they would be successful on the cobblestone streets of Italy.

Typical uneven Rome street conditions

Another thing to consider is the chair itself. Travelers like to travel with “travel chairs” or “companion chairs” which are light weight and more portable, however, the small wheels of those chairs will cause more unwanted problems as the wheels will get stuck in the terrain of the uneven surfaces. Use a standard wheelchair for your vacations and you will be much more comfortable getting your traveler around the city.

Not all streets in Italy are cobbled

Having said that, not all streets are cobbled. There are smaller streets to access places of interest you can use until you get to the areas where the rolling may be a bit more difficult. Having a guide around the city is helpful as they know which streets are more wheelchair friendly and will help to get you to your walking destination on an easier path. Be prepared for hills and inclines. The city streets are not level and you will find hills and inclines no matter which city you travel to in Italy.

Italy travel by scooter

Getting around the city is sometimes challenging. The sidewalks are often broken and do not have curb cuts, which forces the traveler into the busy streets. Stay as close to the parked cars or sidewalk as possible. Italians that drive through the city streets are used to obstacles in their way, so they are a bit more cautious and usually give the pedestrian the right of way.

Wheelchairs on Rome roadway

If you are staying at an inner city hotel, which is where we all want to be when we travel, be aware that the small streets may not be able to accommodate a large vehicle with a lift. If that’s the case, getting to your transportation can also be a challenge. I have walked as far as 2 or 3 blocks to get to our coach with my wheelchair group. Because coaches are only permitted in certain areas, and cannot fit down the small streets of the old city, we were forced to walk the chairs to where the coach was parked. It’s not always easy, but in the end, you will be delighted you took on the challenge.

As long as you are prepared both physically and mentally for your trip, I have no doubt that you will return saying that you love Italy too.

If you look for them you can run into cobblestones in Rome

The most common surface in Italy

When to visit Kenya on a Wheelchair Accessible Safari

Wheelchair accessible wildlife safari

When I’m asked by a client when is the best time to go to go on a Kenya wildlife safari, I can’t help but remember the punchline of an old Kenyan joke; “Sir, there are no bad safaris in Kenya; we only have wet ones and dry ones.”  It’s true that Kenya hosts the world’s best wildlife safaris and it’s also true that Kenya can also host some of the wettest.

Kenya’s main tourist season is in January and February because it’s hot and dry and the game parks burst with big crowds and bigger rates.  For one reason, the animals are easier to spot as they congregate around water holes and river banks, and for another, the northern Masai Mara is packed and overflowing with big beasts and big predator cats. It’s calving season for the wildebeests in the beginning of February and there’s no better season to see wild pursuits, high speed chases, and narrow escapes.

The reasons for us sponsoring our accessible safari every year in the middle of the summer are of course the naturally perfect weather, and July coincides with the greatest animal spectacle on Earth – the great migration.  Every year in June and July, millions of wildebeest, zebras and antelopes migrate north from their winter home in Tanzania’s Serengeti Plains up to the grassy plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya.  Incredibly, the migration leads millions of animals directly through the world’s two most crocodile infested rivers; the Grumeti, in Tanzania, and the Mara River in Kenya. Here, during the crossings legions of hungry crocodiles wait in the murky waters as stampedes of wild beasts fights the currents of the raging rivers and the carcasses of the stampeded float dead downstream.

Accessible Journey’s Pres/CEO with his Kenyan Friend

By September all the migrated wildlife from Tanzania are overflowing on the plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara and every animal’s taking advantage of the abundant food; including the predators.  In November/December the Short Rains begin and the moisture plagues the wildebeests with hoofs fungus as the mud develops.  Rain, mud, and the hoof fungus start the herds back to their winter home in the Serengeti plains in Tanzania.

Temperature throughout Kenya can range dramatically and is mainly a factor of altitude.  In July, our accessible Kenya safari visits the Masai Mara, the Rift Valley and the Central Highlands when the temperature is the most agreeable and the rainfall is the lowest.  The cool nights in the Central Highlands are wonderfully unexpected and the warm wood campfires around your encampment, or the wood burning fireplace in your room make the lower temperatures more agreeable.

Our wheelchair accessible safari in Kenya avoids the “Long Rains” (March to the beginning of June) and the “Short Rains” (October to the end of November) when the going is wet.  It’s during the “long rains” that the pace of life is slowed by too much water and mud. Roads are closed, soggy wet landscape becomes off limits to vehicles, wildlife are difficult to spot, and the mosquitoes grow so thick they can carry a grown man away…so we’ve been told.   The conditions during the “Short Rains” can be equally bad, except the rain doesn’t last as long. Like the punchline says, there are no bad safaris in Kenya.

Feeding the wild giraffe’s at Giraffe Manor, Nairobi, Keny

Let us make your wheelchair wildlife safaris in Kenya memorable, accessible, and dry – call us about the accessible, dry, possibilities at 800.846.4537.

Nautilus Tours and Cruises closes

I was saddened yesterday after I read the email that told of Nautilus Tours and Cruises closing their travel agency for wheelchair travelers. After I started Accessible Journeys in 1985, Nautilus came along as another go-to agency for travelers with wheelchairs.

Back then, like it is today, it was a small accessible world.  There were only a few agencies in America and a handful of travel agents who were responsible for mapping out the adventures of wheelchair travelers in America.

Nautilus was started in 1988 by Lou and Yvonne Nau. Their agency created wheelchair accessible adventures and cruises almost everywhere and they are fondly remembered by many of their clients. In 1995 they decided to retire and asked Joan Diamond and Jill Bellows to continue the company.

Joan had specialized in travel for persons with disabilities for over 20 years and she served as the Western Regional President of SATH (Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality. Jill had been in the travel business for over 30 years, was a Master Cruise Counselor and was also a teacher in the tourism department of Los Angeles City College.

During Joan and Jill’s time, Nautilus they specialized in travel arrangements for persons with physical disabilities, their families and friends and they developed and escort tours and cruises of Scandinavia, France, Italy, Holland, Alaska, Belgium and Ireland.

When I received a return email from Joan, she told me the decision to close Nautilus was due to her health and Jill’s health, and that has made it impossible for them to maintain a business.  As for Nautilus continuing as a business venture, Joan told me there are no forward clients, no refunds necessary and no consumers adversely effected.

As for Joan, she’s not retiring.  She plans to continue to specialize in travel arrangements for persons with physical disabilities and she will also be attending the SATH cruise.

Nautilus joins two other pioneering travel agencies for travelers with wheelchairs that are no longer in business; Evergreen Travel run by Betty and Jack Hoffman and Whole Person Tours  run by Bob Zywicki.

Accessible Egypt

Our wheelchair accessible group tour to Egypt includes everything a wheeled travel wants in a first class accessible tour to Egypt; wheelchair accessible hospitality: hotels with wheel-in showers, accessible van transportation, knowledgeable English Speaking guides, time to wander and roll around Egypt’s many antiquities, a cruise on the Nile River with an accessible stateroom with a wheel-in shower, a morning to barter for goods in one of the world oldest markets and time to refresh by the Red Sea in the desert before returning home.

All of our trips to Egypt are very customizable and adjustable to every travelers level for energy and endurance.  We’ve managed very well with travelers with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and quadriplegics who can’t perspire.  Part of the success is taking advantage of air conditioning and places in the shade, the other reason for success is timing.

We send travelers to Egypt all year, however the highest seasons for tourism are in North America’s Spring and Fall. In the winter months of December, January and February, temperatures range from (68°F) in Alexandria where it rains a lot, to 80°F in Aswan where there’s no rain.  For March and April the dry and hot winds of the Khamsin blows in from the West and the sky is choked with dust.  Hottest of all times are the summer months of June, July and August when any destination south of Cairo is unbearable hot – I mean sizzling.

Of the hundreds of Nile Rive cruises sailing in Egypt, very few of them are accessible. Our specially selected Nile River Cruises are wheelchair accessible with 5-star service and accommodation. Our Nile River cruises sail every Monday from Luxor for 4 nights and from Aswan every Friday for 3 nights. We have access to a maximum of 4 fully wheelchair accessible staterooms. These selected staterooms are junior suite category and spacious enough for wheeling around and without barriers. Bathrooms are equipped with wide entrance door Grab rails and roll-in showers.

When it comes to disembarkation there are some inherent issues with access: In Egypt, Nile River cruise boats dock parallel to the pier and often times multiple ships will dock side by side to one another extending from the pier. The Nile cruise boat we use normally docks in the 2nd or 3rd position from the pier and this presents a series of obstacles from the quayside to the boat. For this reason, we have to ask passengers who wish to disembark to agree to being lifted by the crew during disembarkation. Passengers using heavy wheelchairs may need to disembark separately from their equipment in a manual wheelchair and join the equipment once on land.

On land, our clients are to accompanied by a trained Egyptologist tour guide throughout the Nile Cruise. Sightseeing is specially prepared and accessible tours are available at the following sites:
– Aswan High Dam & Unfinished obelisk
– Luxor East Bank: Temple of Luxor & Temple of Karnak
– Luxor West Bank: Temple of Deir Bahary / Colossi of Memnon

Our tour is designed to provide maximum participation and to be as barrier free as possible. Our wheelchair accessible vacations in Egypt are the very best of all possibilities. Our first hand knowledge about access and accessibility in Egypt and our collaboration with the world’s best accessible travel planners make any Egypt travel dream come true.

For more details about wheelchair travel and handicapped traveler access in Egypt, contact Accessible Journeys.

Kenya safari

Join us for an accessible wildlife safari around Kenya